2016 is shaping up to be a really exciting year for women’s road cycling. It’s only February, and we’ve already had 2 stage races streamed live, the Tour Femenino de San Luis and the Ladies Tour of Qatar, and the season hasn’t really started yet. The first ever Women’s WorldTour promises us more racing footage than ever, and Belgian TV station Sporza will be showing part of the Ronde van Vlaanderen live, in a move I hope will have a knock-on effect on other broadcasters. Of course an Olympic year always gives us extra, but it looks like the last two summers, with live races every week for around 6 weeks, was just the beginning. So it feels like a good time for a guide to what we might be able to watch live, and what has significant highlights of at least 30 minutes. I’ll come back to MTB later in the year, so this is just road.
Of course, a caveat before we start. This is basically guesses, based on what we’ve seen in previous years, so please don’t take it as set in stone, as it might not be accurate. And of course, more might be added! I’m focusing on road races, but I’ll put a guide to Crits in the USA and UK below – and you can find my tried-and-tested ways of staying in touch with races that aren’t being shown over here.
For some of these races, you’ll need a VPN set to the relevant country or the pirate streams to watch. I favour a VPN myself – I used Witopia, but there are free VPNs like Betternet, Hola and Tunnelbear. If you’re not sure about VPNs, I highly recommend inrng’s explanation of what they are, and why they beat streams. When I have to, I look for streams in places like Steephill, bvls, ProCyclingLive and Cycling Fans, and I always recommend you install adblock and never ever click on the ads! I’ll put up guides to watching the live races nearer the time in the Live Cycling section of the site. And if you’re wondering about what the race categories mean, I have a guide here.
28th February – Spar Omloop van het Hageland (Tielt Winge) (1.1. Belgium) – LIVE
This is the first race in the Lotto Cycling Cup, a series of fantastic Belgian races with points that add to an overall prize. In previous years they’ve had great highlights by the MotoMedia team (check out their vimeo), but the LCC tweeted that this year’s Omloop van het Hageland will be streamed live on livestream at this link, from 14:00 Euro CET (1pm UK GMT, 8am N American EST, midnight Aussie AEDT). I don’t know if this means there’ll be more of the series streamed too, but follow the Lotto Cycling Cup twitter, they’re sure to tell us.
5th March – Strade Bianche (WorldTour, Italy) – HIGHLIGHTS
This is the first round of the Women’s World Tour, so we’re promised at least 30 mins highlights which should be on the UCI Youtube, but last year there was also highlights on RAI Sport 2, the Italian channel we’ll be talking a lot about today. Check out their tv schedule nearer the time, because sometimes there are geo-restricted highlights we can watch on their livestream (though it’s restricted to Italy, so you may need a VPN). Last year’s videos are in this podcast post.
12th March – Ronde van Drenthe (WorldTour, Netherlands) – LIVE
This is probably the most reliably live-streamed woman’s race, and was certainly the first full race I saw – and it’s wonderful, famously combining some of the most vicious cobbles on the circuit with a hill that grows every year, because it’s man-made, constructed from landfill. No, really! The last hour has been shown on RTV Drenthe‘s livestream, which is un-geo-restricted – check the tv schedule nearer the time (it pays to open the stream early) and last year it was also shown restricted on NOS in the Netherlands too. They usually have highlights clips from the other women’s Drenthe race, the Drentse Acht on 13th March, on the RTV Drenthe YouTube (as last year, when it was notable for Loren Rowney‘s handlebars being grabbed). And as a World Tour race, we’ll get the highlights on the UCI YouTube. We can watch the videos from last year, 2014, and 2013, and 2012 and 2011.
20th March – Trofeo Alfredo Binda (WorldTour, Italy) – SEMI-LIVE
It’s a wonderful race in the Varese region, with a long first loop, and then laps of a technical circuit around Cittiglio, with a vicious climb and difficult descent.
UPDATE! There’ll be semi-live coverage – a stream on the race website that will have Italian commentary with fixed cameras showing every time the race crosses the finish-line, including in the laps and at the end. That’s 13:30 Euro CET; 12:30pm UK GMT; 8:30am N American EDT; 11:30pm Aussie AEDT. I’ll be doing English commentary for it on my Mixlr.
And as well as that traditionally seen an hour of post-race highlights, with about the last half hour of the race “as live” on RAI Sport 1’s stream – it looks like it’ll be at 17:00 Euro CET on Sunday (4pm UK GMT; midday EDT; 3am AEDT) and again you may need a VPN, or try this stream – and again, check the tv schedule nearer the time, and look out for the half hour highlights on the UCI YouTube. Videos from 2015 and 2014.
27th March – Gent-Wevelgem (WorldTour, Belgium) – HIGHLIGHTS
It’s at the same time as the men’s race, which we know from the typically Flandrian cobbled climbs and pave sections, so we can hope that they cut to the women’s finish live during the men’s race, but despite the fixed cameras at the finishline, it’s not guaranteed.
But it is a WorldTour race, so there’ll be the half-hour UCI YouTube highlights. Videos from 2014 and 2015 (scroll down in both those posts).
I’ll be doing English-language commentary – here’s the guide to that and how else to follow the race.
3rd April – Ronde van Vlaanderen (WorldTour, Belgium) – LIVE
This is very exciting. Having women’s races at the same time as the men’s is wonderful for the atmosphere for riders, and it helps for sponsors and fans from the men’s racing who know the race names, but it does mean that coverage is patchy. Sometimes we get to see the women’s finish live in the men’s coverage, other times only highlights, but this year Sporza is stepping up. After the fantastic viewing figures for women’s cyclocross all winter, they’ve announced they will show the last 50k of the Ronde van Vlaanderen live with key moments and the finish incorporated into the men’s coverage which we should see all over the world. This is a huge game-changer, and could well mean to more. And as a WorldTour race, there’ll be
at least 30 mins highlights on the UCI YouTube. Videos from last year are here, and 2014 here.
Update! Here’s my guide to watching the race
6th-10th April – Energiewacht Tour (2.2, Netherlands) – LIVE?
The Energiewacht Tour is the first European stage race of the season, and it’s ALL about ‘Dutch style racing’ – wind, killer breaks that get away in the first 10k, endless attacks and catches, and a GC that can change every day – and with a junior stage race on the same roads as the elite women. After years of great video, last year it was streamed live online, un-geo-restricted by Podium.tv – watch the videos here in this podcast post (I was there last year, it was fantastic). They haven’t announced if that will be the same this year, but they’ve told us the route, and they’ll be back for the final stage to the German Wadden island of Bochum. Even if it’s not live, they’ll give us fantastic highlights and social media.
UPDATE: It wasn’t live, but there were good highlights
NEW! 6-10th April – Redlands Bicycle Classic (USA, National) – LIVE
There have been so many innovative streams coming out of the USA scene, and it’s great another American race is joining in! And the Redlands Classics is one of those perfectly American races too, with men and women racing on the same courses, including some massively fast crit stages, and a huge festival of cycling, including races for para-cyclists, lower Cat riders and all ages of children, all under the California sun. They haven’t given us many details of the livestreaming yet, but they say it’s happening – and if all that doesn’t convince you to watch…
17th April – Euskal Emakumeen Bira (Spain, 2.1) – Final Stage LIVE
The Basque stage race has been having problems in recent years, with bigger races taking riders away from its mountains and rain, but moving from June to 13th-17th April has rallied the race, and this year, Spanish women’s cycling genius Yolanda Álvarez says we will have daily video clips, and should be able to see the final stage stream live. This is great news – it’s one of the few reliable climbers’ races on the calendar, and it’s in a beautiful part of the world. Follow the race twitter for more information.
LIVE Here, from 12:00 CEST (11am BST/6am EST/8pm AEST) http://www.eitb.eus/es/television/etb-sat/
20th April – Flèche Wallonne (Belgium, WorldTour) – HIGHLIGHTS
This has given us some of the biggest frustration of any races. They used to show us the women’s finish live in the men’s coverage, which is SO easy, as there are fixed cameras all the way up the Mur de Huy, and it’s designed so the women finish while the men are on some boring back part of the course, and I’m pretty sure most cycling fans would rather watch pensioners, schoolkids and anyone else race up the Mur than boring non-action, because it’s one of the iconic climbs of the sport. In the worst year, the men’s coverage swapped to a shot from the commentary booth of commentators leaning out of the window watching the women finish, which was just trolling us! So we can cross our fingers that we’ll get the live finish this year, but it might be just highlights
on the UCI YouTube. Here’s what we got last year – and the wonderful Karl Lima, boss of Hitec Products, took me to the race in 2013 – here are my stories, photos and interviews.
NEW! 30th April – Asda Tour de Yorkshire (Great Britain, 1.1) – LIVE
This was a very late addition to the UCI calendar, and after last year’s less-than-impressive 70km race, they’ve really stepped up this year – it’s on the same day and same roads as the men’s Stage 2, and it’ll be live in 2 places – the entire race will be shown on Eurosport, and the last 3 hours on ITV4. And with a total prize pot of £50,000, the largest in women’s cycling, they’re definitely putting that disappointing debut in the past, and launching themselves as a major player. Read more about it on the Guardian, and Lizzie Armitstead’s comments on the Telegraph.
UPDATE: my guide to watching
6th-8th May – Tour of ChongMing Island (WorldTour, China) – LIVE
As you can imagine, we don’t get much social media out of this race, and very limited video, with only Wiggle High5’s daily videos showing us anything. We did get daily highlights in 2013, but now it’s the WorldTour, we might get some highlights on the UCI YouTube.
UPDATE! – Each stage had 2 hours of livestream – albeit with virus warnings on the stream – but you can catch up with what was shown here.
NEW! 13-15th May – 4.NEA aka International Women’s Stage Race (2.2, Finland) – LIVE
This will be the 4th year this race has run, and the first year it’s had UCI ranking – and because the Scandinavians are the absolute best for everything being streamed, we’ll be able to watch live on their website, and they’re hoping the commentary will be in Finnish and English.
19th-22nd May – Amgen Tour of California (WorldTour, USA) – TourTracker & highlights
I’m sure I’ve seen something written that this will be shown live, but as the women’s race is on the final 4 days of the men’s race, this could be hard… but not impossible! Usually the media is provided by Tour Tracker, which gives us so much, and they have fantastic highlights. The route has just been announced (scroll down), and we can see it in their video too:
20th-25th May – Tour de l’Occitanie (2.2, France) – LIVE
According to Drops owner Tom Varney, the last 2 hours of each stage will be shown live on French national TV, and so streamed too. It’s a brand-new race this year, without a working website yet, and contested by the smaller teams, it seems, so even more impressive they’ll have live coverage. You can follow them on facebook and twitter.
UPDATE: Well, that’s what was promised…. but the race was cancelled around a week before it was supposed to run, so it all came to nothing.
27th-29th May – USA National Road Championships – LIVE
29th May – Winston-Salem Crit (non-UCI) – LIVE
30th May – Winston Salem Cycling Classic (1.2, USA) – LIVE
I’ve really enjoyed the way USA races have lead the way in creating their own live streaming, and the Winston-Salem weekend is a great example. After a few years having a non-UCI crit alongside the UCI-ranked road race, and streaming both on their livestream, they’ve now been awarded the USA National Championships for 2016 and 2017.
The #USPro Nats have been consistently streamed – the videos from 2015 are in this post – so hopefully all of these will be again, and if you’re in/near North Carolina, head down in person, because it’s always been a brilliant weekend of cycling, music and other events, but with Nats it’ll be even better.
It’s all streamed live – click for streams or replays
- #USPRO National Road Race 28th May
- Winston-Salem Crit, Sunday 29th May, from 5pm EDT (10pm UK BST; 23:00 Euro CEST; 7am Monday Aus AEST)
- Winston-Salem Road Race, Monday 30th May, from 10am EDT (3pm BST; 16:00 CEST; midnight AEST)
5th June – Lotto Cycling Cup #6 -Keukens van Lommel Ladies Classic (Herselt) (1.2, Belgium) – LIVE
AKA the Zuidkempse Ladies Classic, anew round in the Lotto Cup – we don’t know much about it yet, but like Hageland, the LCChas tweeted this:
I am guessing maybe it’s going to be on the MotomediaTeam livestream? I’ll update with more information nearer the time, but keep an eye on the LCC twitter. The race starts at 15:00 Euro CEST (2pm UK BST; 9am USA EDT; 11pm Aussie AEST)
5th June – Philadelphia Classic (WorldTour, USA) – LIVE
The Philly Classic features the wonderful Manayunk Wall, which used to be an ordinary, albeit steep street in Philadephia, until the race organisers transformed it into a legend of USA racing! It’s a fantastic race with a crazy-happy crowd, and while the home-made footage was a bit ropey in 2014, it’s improved, and we should get an unrestricted livestream again on the race site.
15th-19th June – Aviva Women’s Tour (WorldTour, UK) – HIGHLIGHTS
You probably know my disclosure that I’ve done the live race tweeting for this race since it started, but believe me, that doesn’t mean I exaggerate about this race, which is universally acknowledged as having set a new bar for women’s races, and with the phenomenal crowds, demonstrated beyond doubt that there IS an audience for women’s cycling! We don’t get to see it live, but there should be an hour of great highlights on ITV4 on TV and online every day that are available to watch for 30 days on the ITV Player (UK, or use a streaming site or a VPN). And there is fantastic race media, including their superb videos. This year is extra special because the route has just been announced, and the race is leaving the south-east of England for the hilly Peak District and the Cotswolds. It’s going to be SO GOOD! Check out the media from the first year, and my interviews with Guy Elliot, the race controller, about 2015, and with Marianne Vos about being at the 2015 race as a TV commentator and spectator.
20th-26th June – National Championships (various)
All of the European National Road Championships and lots of other countries’ Champs are held over the same week, and especially the same weekend. What we get to see varies from year to year, but traditionally we’ve been able to watch the Italian and Dutch Champs, which are by far the most competitive ones, and often the French and other races. Here’s what we saw in 2014 from the ITTs and the Road Races and in 2015, both full races and highlights – and of course I’ll do a round up of what to watch where, nearer the time, and another post-weekend collection
1st-10th July – Giro Rosa (WorldTour, Italy) – HIGHLIGHTS
This is the only women’s stage race that’s allowed to run for 10 days – it used to be one of three, so it’s so important for the sport. Having that length allows it to have something for everyone – climbing, sprint, Classics and ITT stages, and being in Italy, we get great coverage from RAI Sport 2 (albeit geo-restriced so via VPNs or streams), wonderful social media and fantastic highlights packages. I tend to go all-out for the race, with lots of rider Q&As and daily media posts – check out the coverage from 2015, 2014 and 2013.
24th July – La Course by Le Tour de France (WorldTour, France) – LIVE
At least the second hour should be shown everywhere that shows the Tour de France, with hundreds of different options if it’s not on TV in your area. Here’s what it looked like last year, and from Marianne Vos’ bike in 2014.
30th July – Prudential Ride London GP (WorldTour, UK) – LIVE
This is the strangest addition to the World Tour, as it wasn’t even UCI-ranked last year, and has always been a short crit, so doesn’t really fit with the tough Classics and stage races. The course is very London tourism through, running around St James’ Park and past Buckingham Palace, and it’s a lovely event to visit (I commentated it for international Eurosport last year!) and it’s always been shown on the BBC and streamed on the BBC website, so it should be again this year.
1st-6th August – Tour of Utah (domestic USA) – LIVE
This isn’t UCI, but last year it was streamed live, with the women’s and men’s races shown together on Tour Tracker. It was excellent, and I hope we get that again!
7th August – Olympic Road Race (Brazil) – LIVE
10th August – Olympic ITT (Brazil) – LIVE
Typically the Olympic road cycling has tons of coverage, all over the world, so even if the cycling’s not on TV in your area, there should definitely be streams. We’ll be talking a lot about these races in the lead-up, believe me, and Peter van der Veen has explained the qualification system.
12th-14th August – Ladies Tour of Norway (2.1) – LIVE?
This race was wonderful the first year, where it had brilliant highlights, and then last year they stepped up, showing the race live on Procycling.no, the race site and the race youtube, so hopefully we’ll have the same this year. I didn’t watch it because Karl Lima and Hitec Products took me to the race, and I had the most incredible time – listen to me talk about it, and watch the videos, in this podcast post. I can’t recommend this race enough, everyone was wonderful, the sun shone continually, Norway and Sweden are beautiful, and of course the racing was brilliant.
19th August – Crescent Vårgårda Team Time Trial (WorldTour, Sweden) – Highlights
21st August – Crescent Vårgårda Road Race (WorldTour, Sweden) – LIVE
Vårgårda is famous for their innovations in bringing live women’s racing to fans. The road race started with a livetext combined with radio commentary, then added finish-line video each time the riders crossed the lap line, and then added cameras from the hill on every lap, and finally it was streamed, live, and unrestricted, on Swedish TV and the UCI YouTube. It’s such a fantastic success story, and really interesting use of evolving technologies – and as the road race can be won in every way, it’s a brilliant showcase.
The Team Time Trial only usually gets highlights, but it’s important as the only real indication of what might happen in the TTT Worlds, and the Road Race should be live,
with of course the usual UCI highlights. Videos from 2013, the 2014 TTT and road race, and from last year’s TTT and road race.
27th August – GP de Plouay (WorldTour, France) – LIVE
It’s part of a huge 4 day festival of cycling in Plouay, with great multi-media, and we’ve got to see the last section of the race live for many years, on French TV – though sometimes it’s been via dodgy streams, as when Eurosport bought the full package rights and didn’t show the women a few years back. But it’s been so much better in recent years, streamed on the UCI Youtube and even E/sport has shown it, which is fabulous as it’s such a good race, with attacking over the hill. I think we’ll be lucky this year which makes me happy, because that classic Emma Pooley attack from 2010 in is still one of my favourite cycling moments ever – and more collections from 2013, 2014 and 2015.
4th September – Boels Rental Ladies Tour (Netherlands, 2.1) – final stage LIVE?
The Holland Ladies Tour runs from 30th August to 4th September, and the race has some really brilliant media, with lots of racing clips, which in recent years has culminated in the final stage being streamed live and unrestricted on Dutch local channel L1, as the stage has roamed all over the hills of the Valkenburg region, including the iconic Cauberg. It’s too early for the 2016 route to be announced yet, but if we’re back in this region, we can expect to see it again. Here’s what we got last year.
11th September – Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta (WorldTour, Spain) – LIVE
Like La Course, this should be shown everywhere La Vuelta is shown, with tons of streams. And like La Course, it’s not the most exciting course, but it’s so important for what it represents, and of course, Madrid is a gorgeous city
11th September – Chrono Champenois (France, 1.1) – LIVE
It’s a standalone ITT that should have a lot more riders this year, with Worlds being pushed back. And it was streamed live on the race site last year, at least starts and finishes, so we can get some ideas about Worlds too.
14th-18th September – European Junior and u23 Road Championships (Nice to Monaco) – LIVE?
I’m sad the Euros aren’t in the summer as usual, because they don’t count to Olympic qualification like the African, Asian and Pan-American Continental Championships do. But the Euros are always the place to spot young talent for the future. Because they travel around, the media varies significantly, but last year in Estonia we saw the races live, and had highlights, so cross your fingers for this year.
24th September – Giro dell’Emilia (Italy 1.1) – HIGHLIGHTS
25th September – GP Bruno Beghelli (Italy 1.1) – HIGHLIGHTS
Like all the Italian races, the Giro dell’Emilia has had half-hour highlights on RAI Sport 2 (restricted to Italy, but VPN-able). It’s part of a weekend of racing with men’s races as well – and this year the Sunday GP Bruno Beghelli has got a women’s race added, so hopefully more highlights too!
9th – 15th October – Road World Championships (Qatar) – LIVE
The Doha 2016 World Road Champs seem like they could be problematic due to the heat and the course, but at least every time we have women’s racing in Qatar, it’s always great coverage – check out what I learned from this year’s Ladies Tour of Qatar, with links to tons of videos. Worlds are usually shown everywhere, with lots of links and options.
Wow, that’s a lot of racing! I’ll tell you how you can follow the races when they’re not streamed later in the week, and you can find out about how these fit into the overall women’s road season in my 2016 calendar posts. But that’s not all!
Want more? USA Crits and the Tour Series
There are two crit series that we can watch live as well – the USA Crits are crazy fast, and one of the few series riders can make serious money from, as there are CASH PREEEEMS! at tons of intermediate laps, funded by local businesses. These described by the very excitable race announcer, American stereotype x 100, make them a bit of a culture shock to watch if you’re not American (“PREEM! PREEM! PREEEEEEM!!! We’re coming to the OAKVIEW FUNERAL HOME 300 DOLLAR CASH PREEEEEEEM!”) but it adds to the charm. This year, the 10th anniversary of the series, the races run from 19th March to 20th August. The series website, with the details of 10 races, will be here, and the women’s and men’s races will be streamed live, maybe on their livestream – follow the @USCrits twitter for reminders and live race tweeting.
In the UK we don’t have PREEMS! – we have the Pearl Izumi Tour Series. There are ten men’s races and five of these also have women’s Matrix Fitness GPs, and there’s an hour of post-race highlights for each race on ITV4, which is free to view in the UK, and available to watch for 30 days afterwards, on the ITV Player. The coverage can vary about how much they show of the women, but usually it’s pretty good at introducing the riders and the teams. And as you’d expect from a series organised by SweetSpot, who run the Aviva Women’s Tour and the men’s Tour of Britain, the media and social media are fantastic – the full information will be on their website later this month. Follow their twitter for live race updates, and their highlights videos.
UPDATE! Here’s my guide to following the races live, and finding highlights
If you’ve got any questions about all of this, ask me in the comments or on twitter – and definitely share any other races that we might get to see live, or significant highlights.
I’m able to make women’s cycling media because my wonderful Patreon supporters fund me from as little as £1.50/$2/€2 a month – I’m so grateful to them, thank you! If you’d like to join them, all the information is here.